June 22, 2022
【Yaraku-Jin】12 hours of time difference! "Yaraku-Jin" working on the other side of the world
"Yaraku-Jin (やらく人)" is a series of articles that unravels Yaraku and YarakuZen by focusing on the "people (人) " surrounding Yaraku, such as the colleagues working together, YarakuZen users, and partner companies.
In this fifth volume, we interviewed Giovanni, a member of the NLP (Natural Language Processing) engineering team at Yaraku, Inc.
Q：Tell us about yourself.
I'm Giovanni Gatti De Giacomo and I turned 23 years old on October 17th, 2021.
I was born and raised in the city of Rio Grande, Brazil. It is an area near the southernmost tip of Brazil, 1,791.7 kilometers away from Rio de Janeiro, where old cityscape still remains and we can feel an atmosphere of Portugal. Brazil may have an image of a hot climate, but in fact in the south region, where I lived, the climate was similar to Japan's, with temperatures ranging from 30 degrees in summer to zero degrees in winter.
My father owned a computer repair shop, so I was always interested in computers at an early age, and by the time I was six or seven years old, I was proficient in using them.
At the age of 17, I enrolled in a local university, where I majored in computer engineering. My university was one of the first in Brazil to introduce computer engineering courses. We had one professor that used to lecture at the University of Cambridge and it had many famous graduates as well. The engineering program is a 5-year curriculum and I entered in 2016 and graduated in 2021.
Q：What is your relationship with foreign countries?
The only trip to foreign countries I have ever taken was a research trip to the United States during my first year of university. My city is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Brazil's largest lagoon, and a lake on all sides of the north, south, east, and west. So marine, underwater, and aquatic research was very popular. I did a lot of interesting research there, including research using underwater robots to explore ships and other objects. I was specially involved in computer vision research.
In my research, I was paired with a colleague who was in PhD. He was mainly in charge of robotics and I was in charge of deep learning.
Q：Did you ever think of moving to the United States or finding a job there?
I am currently doing my Master’s at the University of Texas at Austin, but the courses are covered remotely, so I am planning to move to Japan.
For some time now, my target has been Japan. Many people in the computer engineering field are aiming to live in the US, but I was more interested in Japan. In fact, even before I started looking for a job, I was learning Japanese with a view to working in Japan.
It would be much easier for me living in the US than in Japan, since I speak fluent English and the culture is very similar, but it is Japan that I find attractive. I am interested in Japanese culture and I really like the sound of the Japanese language. I began studying Japanese while still in university.
Q：How did you encounter the Japanese language?
When I was a child, Japanese anime was broadcast on TV in Brazil, and I watched Dragon Ball and Naruto. When I was a highschool student, I began to enjoy even more Japanese anime on Netflix and Crunchyroll. I still watch "Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation" and others. My hobbies are reading, watching anime, and playing video games.
In my childhood, I spent my summer holidays at the beach with my family. My grandmother's house where I stayed during the summer had no computer or internet access, and it was unbearable to be without a computer for two or three months and only be able to play on the beach. Even now I don't have very good memories of beaches.
Q：What was your path to your current business?
While I have loved games since I was a child, I was also interested in the behind-the-scenes of how those games were made, so I taught myself programming. My first programming language was RGSS (a variant of Ruby), created by Japanese company Enterbrain for use with RPG Maker (software by the same company). Basically, I had learned programming to try and create games! I joined forums and studied online to deepen my knowledge, and by the time I entered college, I had already learned Python and C (programming languages).
Q：How did you come to join Yaraku?
I graduated from university in January 2020 and started job hunting in March. I received offers from three companies, including a research position at a university and a game company, but I decided to join Yaraku because I could work on deep learning, which I had been researching at university.
At Yaraku, I am an NLP (Natural Language Processing) engineer. My specialty in university was computer vision, but I also got the ropes of NLP after I joined the company. My main task is to introduce new features to improve the quality of translations and services.
The team has four members. Cohan is the NLP director, lives in India, I live in Brazil, Vipul is from Nepal and now lives in Japan, and the other intern member Mayumi lives in Germany. We are truly a global team.
Q：You were on the other side of the world from Japan and working with colleagues from all over the world. Did you have any difficulties in time management or work procedures?
My working hours are from 8pm to 5am (Brazil Local Time). I wake up at 1 pm and have “breakfast” at lunchtime, and use the rest of the day until work time to study for my Master's degree and to do my hobbies, etc. I get enough sleep and have no problems.
There are members from many different countries on the NLP and App teams, but they all speak English, so there are no language barriers either. Although each team member has different backgrounds, we are all connected in the field of computer science, so we can communicate smoothly.
Q：What are the advantages of working with diverse members then?
It may be cliche but it is interesting to see different points of view. We have different cultures and different approaches to things, so we always have topics to discuss, and I really enjoy working with people from different countries.
In a practical point of view, what we are dealing with in our work is languages. There are people on the team who speak a variety of languages - one who understands Japanese, Portuguese, English, ... maybe Hindi? So we can help each other in our work. This is an advantage because the service of Yaraku is the language translation.
Q：Do you have any goals for the future?
My immediate goal is to go to Japan. And to complete the development of the system we are currently working on and begin discussions for a brand new theme, as groundbreaking as possible.
I do not think too much about long-term goals. I will be deciding whether to complete the Master's program I'm in now or pursue a PhD. We'll see how that will go.
Q：Please tell us about your cuisine in Brazil so that we can check out our recommendations when you make it to visit Japan.
I am sure there are some churrasco restaurants in Japan, and churrasco is originated in my home state. Livestock farming is thriving in this area, and I've eaten enough beef to get bored.
I also like “Bauru”, the Brazilian sandwich. They are similar to hamburgers, but the meats and vegetables used for Bauru are fresher and more natural, not like the hamburgers served in systematized restaurants in the US.
Seafood and fruits are also abundant, and even simple orange juice is very fresh and inexpensive.
I try to maintain a healthy and regular lifestyle, so I pay attention to diet and exercise.
Thank you very much. We look forward to seeing you in Japan!